Viewer's Guide: Kansas trips to Florida in a marquee matchup
After a quiet Monday, we're back on Tuesday with a top-20 matchup and Kentucky looking to bounce back against a good Boise State team.
After a big-time weekend with buzzer beaters, upsets, top-25 battles, we had arguably the quietest college basketball night of the season. Only six Division-I games were on the slate, and the home team won each of them. Tuesday is much better, with a couple of very intriguing games at the top – despite only 20 D-I games in all.
Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP Poll.
Best game: No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks at No. 19 Florida Gators (7 p.m., ESPN). Don’t let the rankings fool you – both of these teams have the pieces to make a Final Four run. Plus, Florida is going to be as complete as it’s been since the beginning of the season, as the Gators are getting back both Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill from ankle sprains. Kansas is coming off a buzzer loss at Colorado, but Andrew Wiggins looked as aggressive and assertive as he has been all season. He needs to continue playing that way moving forward. On Tuesday, Kansas needs to knock down 3-pointers on one end, and avoid foul trouble at the other. Florida hasn’t had Wilbekin and Hill on the court together yet, so it may take some time for them to co-exist against the Jayhawks.
Second-best game: Boise State Broncos at No. 11 Kentucky Wildcats (9 p.m., ESPN). I’ve been driving the Boise State bandwagon since April – and this is a big opportunity for the Broncos to prove themselves on a national stage. Although that doesn’t mean I’m picking Boise State. The Broncos have a terrific backcourt in Derrick Marks and Anthony Drmic , but they aren’t the same team away from home. Moreover, their perimeter-based offensive lineup doesn’t defend all that effectively. Boise State will have to limit fouling and keep Julius Randle and Willie Cauley-Stein off the glass. Plus, Kentucky will be looking to bounce back after dropping one to Baylor.
Another one to watch: No. 20 Gonzaga Bulldogs at West Virginia (9 p.m., ESPN2). This should be a good test for Gonzaga, which has to travel across the country to face the Mountaineers. The Bulldogs are 8-1, with the lone loss coming to Dayton in Maui. West Virginia Mountaineers has dropped two of three, although there’s nothing shameful about losing to Wisconsin and Missouri. How will the Mountaineers slow down the Zags? Gonzaga is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country – and have plenty of size down low. WVU will have to keep Gonzaga from getting out in transition.
Guaranteed win: There are a few options, but I’ll go with the Bruce Weber angle today. First, Illinois Fighting Illini hosts Dartmouth Big Green (8 p.m.) after slaughtering Auburn over the weekend. The Illini should move to 9-1 heading into Saturday’s game against Oregon. Meanwhile, Weber’s current team, Kansas State Wildcats , was struggling to start the season, but the Wildcats have now won three in a row and should pad their record against South Dakota Coyotes (8 p.m.).
Potential upset: Not really many options on a top-heavy day, but Green Bay Phoenix could come back down to Earth at Eastern Michigan (7 p.m.). Green Bay is coming off a big home win over Virginia, while Eastern Michigan Eagles has lost three in a row. However, the Eagles were hanging with Kentucky, Massachusetts and Purdue in each loss – Tuesday could be the day they break through.
Three things to keep an eye on:
Utah Utes leads the country in scoring margin heading into Tuesday night. That probably won’t change against Idaho State Bengals (9 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
Last year, South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Minnesota Golden Gophers (8 p.m., Big Ten Network) would have been fun. But no Nate Wolters means not much fun.
Deonte Burton going against Justin Cobbs should be interesting – so maybe stay up late and check out Nevada Wolf Pack at California Golden Bears (11 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
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